Staying with Kabaddi for Part 3, we are glad to have with us Mr. Darshan Yandigeri, the analyst for the UP Yoddha’s for season 7 of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Happy to be here and I’m looking forward to this.
Gau :Good to know Darshan! So, what was your involvement with the UP Yoddha’s like in the beginning?
Dar : So I joined them at the start of Pre-season which went on for 45 days. When I went in, I decided to implement an Athlete monitoring system to maximize player performance by reducing injury risk due to over training and fatigue. I used Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) as a metric for monitoring training load after every session to make sure the players, especially the young ones were within their threshold training limit and were given adequate rest for the upcoming matches.
Gau :Interesting! So that was from a fitness perspective, what about from a match perspective in the preseason?
Dar : I usually recorded all the practice matches and then sent the respective raids to players so that they can have a look at their positives and negatives. I also collected the stats for every pre-season match and analyzed the performance of each player to create individual reports. These reports were regularly sent to the management and coaches. From the analysis I identified new young players were putting in superior performances , they managed to break through into the starting lineup for us in the season.
Gau : Well that’s always great to see. So now we get to the season. What’s your role like when the season is in full flow and the matches are coming in thick and fast?
Dar :The main job of an analyst in Kabaddi is to get our opposition reports ready for the next two matches so that we are equipped to send them as soon as one match is over. This is because as you mentioned the games come in thick and fast and the coach needs to alter the training plan accordingly. Also, it is based on this report that the coach conducts a video session a day before the upcoming game where the focus is on the opponent’s previous matches and how our players need to react to various situations that might come up.
Gau :What information do you relay in your analysis of the opponent?
Dar : So I look at the best players of our opposition and try to lock in on their strengths and weaknesses. This would entail situations where said player excels at, so we need to make sure that our players do not engage him there. On the flip side if I do spot a particular weakness which can be exploited, then I mention it. Of course, you also mention patterns of play of the opposition and things along those lines.
Gau : You’ve spoken a lot on the upcoming game, what about the analysis of the previous game?
Dar : Well once that match is over I work on creating a report, which would highlight areas to improve on and that’s vital because this is what coaches majorly work on during training. We look to resolve some of the main issues plaguing the team one by one. We can’t rectify everything in a week, so it’s a continuous process.
Gau : Yes of course, you build this up over the season so the mistakes can be minimalism towards the end. Could you perhaps mention an occasion where something you pointed out to the coaches in this report helped the team?
Dar :So one thing I noticed during the season was that a player was performing well below his normal capabilities in the last 10 minutes of the game. This happened on a few occasions and I mentioned it to the coach. He looked into that in the coming games and concluded that the player had to be subbed off at that point in time. We did that and had some positive results.
Gau :Well, it is often the little details especially towards the end which decide the outcomes so that definitely would have helped. So, Darshan would you have any suggestions or advice to people who want to get into your line of work?
Dar : The main job of an analyst in my opinion is to find patterns or mistakes as early as possible and that is impossible if you waste time looking at every possible video the players have played, as you would eventually miss out on few crucial points that can impact the game in the latter stages of the tournament. Hence, I would suggest that one must get equipped with some knowledge regarding visualisation software (Tableau) with appropriate graphs on aspects that can impact the games so that you identify the patterns or mistakes as early as possible. The sooner you correct them, the sooner the team gets settled. Also, don’t try to force-feed too much information in your analysis. Mention only some key important points, as players won’t retain too much information during games. I would also suggest doing some data analytics courses from Coursera, which would build a good foundation to work from.
That’s some pretty valuable advice right there and with that, we conclude our 3rd interview of this series. I’m sure that your perspective which is slightly different from what we saw earlier in our series, would give people an alternative look at this role. Thank you for your time Darshan! Check back in soon for our 4th installment of “Insights into the Sports Industry”.
Interview and article by our content head – Gautam Varier